The American Time Use Survey (or ATUS) is a yearly report conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor that examines “the average amount of time per day in 2015 that individuals worked, did household activities, and engaged in leisure and sports activities.” The results for 2015 were released this week, and—based on the headlines—are quite dramatic!


Here’s one from The Daily Mail:

And the Kansas City Star:

And something called The Independent Women’s Forum:

But before gasping at headlines that rely on caps lock and words like “shocking,” let’s look at the data.


First, note that time spent on each activity was self-reported by the participants in the form of “time diaries” and regular phone interviews, not observed by researchers. “Employed persons worked an average of 7.6 hours on the days they worked,” they write. “On the days they worked, employed men worked 42 minutes more than employed women. Interesting! But let’s keep reading.

On an average day, 85 percent of women and 67 percent of men spent some time doing household activities such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial and other household management...On the days they did household activities, women spent an average of 2.6 hours on such activities, while men spent 2.1 hours.

In addition, 43 percent of men “did food preparation or cleanup, compared to 70 percent of women.” So women spend more time doing the daily work that doesn’t result in a paycheck. Right. Got it. Let’s move on to “Leisure Activities,” shall we?



On an average day, nearly everyone age 15 and over (96 percent) engaged in some sort of leisure activity such as watching TV, socializing, or exercising. Tight! I love leisure.

Of those who engaged in leisure activities, men spent more time in these activities (5.8 hours) than did women (5.1 hours).

Again, an interesting disparity. I wonder what those women are doing with those .7 hours. Let’s look at this information under “Care of Household Children”:


On an average day, among adults living in households with children under age 6, women spent 1.0 hour providing physical care (such as bathing or feeding a child) to household children; by contrast, men spent 25 minutes providing physical care.

Every bullet point is more interesting than the last!

The thing about this survey that makes it feel so utterly worthless is that it measures time, not productivity. Perhaps the reason women report spending fewer minutes of their day doing the work that pays them money is because they get it done more quickly than their male counterparts. Perhaps they squeeze more out of every minute because otherwise the shit that needs to get done at home—the shit they do for free—won’t get done on time, if at all.


Quality, quantity, studies are usually bad and annoying, etc.

Image via screengrab.